Entries in semiotics (1)
Rian Hughes on his new book CULT-URE, in his own words.
"To help the reader I wanted to have denser pages interspersed with lighter ones, maybe incorporating a visual gag, or something like a dot to dot puzzle, or a comic strip – there are even die cut holes that work from both sides. Hopefully this keeps it engaging and varied. I've read too many incomprehensible books on aesthetics and semiotics that have few if any images at all, which seems peculiar - like a cookbook with no photos of the dishes you're making. I also wanted it to be concise and snappy - by setting a limit on the word count, it encouraged me to use the most efficient and sparse language I could, no flab. Boiled down to the essentials. Free of waffle. It would have been twice the size if I'd included all the original text.
This does make for a pretty dense read, but it is intended to work both as a dip in, dip out experience - which, if you look at how people approach visual books, is actually how they work through them - as well as the more standard 'start at the beginning, end at the end' method. Hopefully by following the 'pop aesthetic' (page 250!) it's comprehensible to the proverbial man-in-the-street, not just those who've studied design or philosophy or ethics. I've tried to make it jargon-free, and where I do use jargon, I'll explain it first.
Like I say, I wanted the book to function both as a series of self-contained ideas, almost as if they could be printed on a pack of cards and chosen at random, as well as a more integrated whole; so you could effectively dip in to the book and get some nugget without reading every previous spread. I added three footnotes at the bottom of each page so the reader could also follow their own thread through the book depending on what ideas caught their fancy - kind of like a choose- your-own adventure book, if you remember those.
One footnote even takes you to the bellyband and back, another from a page on "the power of a name" to the "this book belongs to" page, where you can write in your name and lay the claim of ownership. I tried to put together a book that even those with ADHD might get something out of, but as I also wanted my underlying theme to build and structure the book as a whole, I divided the ideas into 11 chapters (and a coda) that take you from the very simple and elementary - "This is an idea" - "Is this an idea?" to the more complex "How to kill and idea". Ease you in gently before clobbering you with the 'how to save the world' stuff later on, basically. Take you from the light of the Enlightenment off down a dark alley where bad ideas can make bad things happen."